European Commission outlines vision for digital euro

Quick Take

  • The European Commission outlined a plan for a digital euro that would be free to use, both on and offline, anywhere in the bloc.

The European Commission on Wednesday released a proposal for a digital euro that would ensure free access to the CBDC across the bloc and establish a legal framework so that digital euro payments can be made from device to device, both online and offline.

"The digital euro would be available alongside existing national and international private means of payment, such as cards or applications and it would work like a digital wallet where people and businesses could pay with the digital euro anytime and anywhere in the euro area," the proposal said.

The proposed legislation aims to guarantee privacy akin to that of physical cash, with online transactions offering the same level of protection as existing digital means of payments, "with no one able to see what people are paying for when using the digital euro offline."

European Commissioner for financial stability Mairead McGuinness said she expected debate over a digital euro to continue, but added that the new proposed measures could win over skeptics.

Digital euro debate

"Today’s proposal will help frame the debate around what a digital euro is and the advantages of creating it," McGuiness said. "We are at the beginning of a long democratic process, one which will be done hand-in-hand with the European Parliament, Council, and of course, the European Central Bank, who will decide if and when to introduce the digital euro."

The European Central Bank will ultimately decide whether to issue the bloc's CBDC. In a  statement published Wednesday, it welcomed the EC's proposal and confirmed it will decide in the coming months whether to move to the next phase of its CBDC project.

“The euro is the most tangible symbol of European integration,” said ECB President Christine Lagarde. "We look forward to continuing working together with other EU institutions towards a digital euro to ensure our currency is fit for the digital age.”

The ECB's Fabio Panetta added that the proposal "is key to ensuring that the digital euro brings value to the people, taking the appreciated features of cash into the digital sphere."

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